Barak on unilateral withdrawal from West Bank
Barak Ravid, Haaretz, May 30 2012
Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that Israel should consider unilateral moves if negotations with the Palestinians fail to bear fruit. Barak said Wednesday morning in a speech at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies:
We are a coalition of 94 MKs, this is the time to lead a diplomatic process. But if it isn’t possible to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, we must consider an interim arrangement or even a unilateral move. We are on borrowed time. We will reach a wall, and we’ll pay the price. People who are now in a coma will then ask how we didn’t see.
Barak’s remarks came after he received a position paper from his former bureau chief, Gilad Sher, who is now co-chairman of an organization called Blue and White Future, which has been advocating unilateral Israeli action. The group’s other co-chairmen are high-tech entrepreneur Orni Petruschka and former Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon. As part of such a process proposed by Blue and White Future, the Israeli government would pass a compensation law that would provide payment to tens of thousands of residents of isolated West Bank Jewish settlements who move within the boundaries of Israel proper in a two to three year period. In contrast with Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the plan would not call for the removal of the IDF from the entire West Bank. Sher, Petruschka and Ayalon have also begun an international media campaign in support of their position, prompting NYT columnist Thomas Friedman last week to suggest that Netanyahu embrace the group’s “constructive unilateralism,” as he called it. Friedman noted that the plan would call for Israel to state its willingness to resume negotiations without demanding Israeli sovereignty over territory beyond the security fence, while committing to halt settlement construction and adopting a plan to resettle 100,000 West Bank settlers within Israel’s recognized borders.